Wage and Consistency Between Education Level and Occupational Class of Young Workers in a Comparative Perspective

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW2.1.01 (Tower Two)
Marianna Filandri, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
Tiziana Nazio, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
Nicola Negri, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
One of the most obvious consequences of economic and financial crisis, as the current recession, is the rapid increase in unemployment, especially long-term unemployment, albeit with differences among European countries and with an unequal impact on different social groups – i.e. age, gender, social origin. During recessions it becomes also common that more qualified workers increasingly occupy low-skilled jobs, underemployment increases, but also the opportunities for less educated workers to find a job lower (even when the share of low-skilled jobs does not drop significantly). However, education can still have an important role in protecting from entering a ‘bad job’: higher qualifications are often a precondition to access high quality job, while lower levels of education more often lead to being trapped in low-skilled and low-paid employment. The protective effect of educational credentials becomes even more important in times of crisis, because of the increasingly difficult outflow from unemployment.

Much of the available literature stresses the relevance of the initial steps for predicting subsequent phases in young people’s employment careers. On this ground, the highest pay-off would rest on entering an occupation in the labor market, which is the most consistent with one’s highest level of education achieved (Barone & Schizzerotto 2011; Kerckhoff 2006). Recent studies have shown that, in light of this pursue, it is often more convenient for youth -especially in the long run- to wait longer for a ‘good opportunity’ in the labor market rather than hurry into ‘any’ occupation (Baron et al., 2011; Blossfeld et al., 2006; Bukodi & Goldthorpe 2009; Hillmert 2011; Maarten et al. 2011). This becomes even more salient when and where upward mobility is low or has been reducing over time, limiting even further the chances of career progression for individuals. Our research questions relate to the level of job and educational credentials required for young people after a short time following school completion: How are unemployment and underemployment related? How consistency is related to wages? Are cumulative effects dominant, such as that of a high educational qualification, high-class and high-wage employment, and vice versa? Or are there signals of trade-offs between individual resources: i.e. in order to improve the match with the job, young people are more incline to accept low-wage jobs if consistent with their qualifications? Can these differences between countries be traced back to the different characteristics of the institutional contexts, i.e. welfare state and labor markets?

Our aim is to illustrate the overall picture emerging from the analysis of the relationship between wage and occupational consistency for young workers (19-34 years old). To do this: a) we select young workers aged between 19 and 34 years, until up to five years after leaving school b) we then construct a typology crossing the educational level achieved and the occupational class of employment, thus defining the consistency/ inconsistency and observing changes over time c) we then relate the typology built with the reported wage, distinguishing high and low wage. Multivariate analyses are conducted on the longitudinal Eu-Silc (European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions) data on all waves from 2005 to 2011 for France, Italy, Norway and Poland. We select all young adults observed for all the panel period four year

This analytical strategy, comparing mismatch of young people before and during the current economic and financial crisis in different countries, enables us to consider the changes in the relationship between wage and educational-occupational consistency, highlighting different dimensions of the nexus between educational investment and returns achieved in the labour market. It might also allow the exploration of the stratification of strategies adopted by young people and their families with regard to (un)employment and underemployment. Specifically, we will observe the impact of the crisis on the probability of avoiding unemployment and of finding consistent jobs, even if at the expenses of lower wages, or whether, on the contrary, under-paid and under-qualified jobs spread wider, together growing levels of unemployment.

Preliminary analyses/results show that the share of unemployed young people is high in all countries, although much higher in Poland and Italy than in France and, especially, Norway. For a large number of the unemployed, furthermore, the trajectories seem rather stable, with few exits from unemployment over the four years of observation. This highlights the risk of long-term unemployment. When exits to employment happen, it seems more likely through a strategy of self-employment in Italy and Poland than in the other two countries examined.